Title: In The Name of The Father
Summary: A young priest, wavering with his calling to God, did not need his decision to be swayed by external forces. He would take his time coming to the right decision. That was until Bella arrived at confession. "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned."
Pairing: Edward / Bella
Prompt used: Picture prompts 9, 14, 36
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER
"In the name of the Father, and of his son, and of the Holy Spirit, amen."
My hand crossed my chest in the signatory action of the blessing, and I rose from the hard stone floor.
"Father?" I heard the quiet voice of Seth, a seventeen year old young man who I had taken into my care some months ago. He had come from a violent home: escaping a drunk mother and an equally drunk and violent father.
"Seth?" I asked calmly as I slowly turned to face him. "You should have left by now. Why are you here at such an hour?"
"I can't sleep, Father. It's a Sunday night. You know what happened to me on Sunday nights."
"Indeed, I do."
I walked towards him, placing my hand on his shoulder.
"You are safe now. There will be no beatings while you are under my care," I reassured him. "I will come and settle you once I have heard this evening's confessions. I do not intend to be long. There are not many people who will come to confession at midnight. But, even if there is only one person, I must hear them. I must help them atone for their sins."
"Good. Make yourself some supper. But do not over indulge. You know how the devil will haunt your dreams if you do. Eat light, and the angels will help you sleep."
Seth nodded, and I smiled at him, leaning forwards to kiss his forehead.
"Go. Sleep well, Seth. I will pray for your mother and father before I too sleep with the angels tonight."
He turned and walked away, leaving me alone in the sanctuary of God's church.
I pinched the bridge of my nose, wondering if the angels would visit me. I had been restless for a while now. I was asking too many questions about my calling. Had I made the right decision seven years ago? I ran my hand through my hair as I closed my eyes. I felt like the devil was breathing down my neck. Would he get any closer tonight?
I walked along the nave, looking to either side of me for anything out of place as I headed to the main door. Bibles were slipped into the back of the pews in front of them. Kneeling cushions were back in their place as well. I liked my church to be in order. It helped clear the clutter that had recently formed in my head.
I sighed heavily as I looked back to the altar at the front of the church. The simple figure of Jesus on the cross, a symbol of all he suffered for, for us, rose high in the air behind the pulpit where I gave my sermons.
"Maybe, I should listen to my own advice this evening," I muttered to myself.
I strode to the corridor at the right of the church, swinging open the heavy door that lead to where I would sit for the next hour. My steps were long and confident, clipping loudly on the polished wooden floor. My black vestment covered my body from my neck to my feet, but I would need my purple stole for confession. It was the colour of calmness, of penance.
I positioned myself on the wooden slatted bench that ran across the small space at my side of the confessional box. It was a tight squeeze for my tall body, but it only served to help me concentrate on the discomfort of the people who came to me on these evenings.
I placed the Bible on my knee and began to read. I very rarely had visitors after the midnight mass on Sunday. But for the hour following the service, I offered myself to listen to any poor souls who needed to clear their conscience; those who needed God's forgiveness. I had heard many stories while sitting in the confessional box: stories of lust, of greed, of hate - and I had forgiven them all on God's behalf. I wondered if I would be able to forgive Seth's parents if they ever dared to approach my church.
The boy had turned up, beaten and bloody, hiding in the church doorway eight months ago. His father had taken a belt to him as well as his fist. His mother had watched and let it happen. Every Sunday night his father went out drinking, only returning home after midnight. When the drink took hold, he had reoccurring visions of demons chasing him, telling him to attack his son or they would claim his soul and send him to the devil. I knew where I'd like to send him.
"Forgive me, Lord Almighty," I whispered, lowering my head and pushing the thoughts from my mind. It was not how I should feel. I was trained to keep my personal thoughts as such and not let them interfere with my mission and unity with our Lord.
After an hour of sitting in the cramped space, I longed for the chance to stretch my legs and swing my arms around. They were purely needs of my own, ones of comfort, and I sighed again, realising I would never have thought such things a while ago. I would have welcomed the discomfort for it would have reminded me of how our Lord suffered for us. He never moaned of his discomfort.
The sound of the confessional door opening snapped me from my internal struggle, and I listened as the person on the other side of the grill moved into position. I heard the rustling of clothes as they got comfortable on the cushion provided for them while they confessed. I was slightly shocked when I heard a woman's voice. Not because women never came to confession, but because of the late hour. I was concerned as to why she was visiting me at such a time.
"Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned."
Her words were the norm, spoken as if she had the weight of the world on her shoulders. She sounded young, but it was hard to tell without seeing her. I didn't respond to her words, waiting for her to tell me how long it had been since her last confession. When she didn't offer the information, I softly prompted her.
"How long is it since your last confession?"
"Oh, shit, sorry I forgot I had to say that."
I smiled at her panicked statement.
"How long? Jeepers, I'm not sure. A couple of years, maybe."
I cocked my head to the side. A reforming Catholic? They were always the greatest challenges, or the easiest to comfort. It all depended on the situation that had brought them back to the arms of the Lord.
"A couple of years is not long in the eyes of our Lord," I offered, hoping I would calm her with my words. She seemed nervous, but I doubted she would shock me with her confession. I'd heard everything.
"Well, maybe not. But I seriously need to confess tonight."
My brow lifted as I spoke my usual line. "Go on, child of our Lord Almighty."
"Well, shit, I don't quite know how to start with all this, but I suppose I should tell you my name."
"You have no need to do so. But if it would make you feel more comfortable then you may tell me what I should call you." I was surprised she would want to divulge such information. Usually confessions were heard from nameless people. It's how they preferred it.
"Well, you can call me what you want." She giggled, enjoying some sort of private joke I had no understanding of. "But, you can call me Bella."
"Bella? Short for Isabella?"
I didn't know of anyone in my congregation called Bella, so I assumed she was from another parish, or perhaps she had just not attended church for the couple of years she had not come to confession.
"Well, I shall call you Isabella, if that's all right with you."
"Of course it's all right. It's my Sunday name. No-one has called me that for years."
I smiled as her voice trailed away, lost in a memory I knew I would never have access to.
"And what do others call you? Of course you do not have to tell me." I was curious about her, but still remembered my place. It was not up to me to know anything about her. I was here to forgive her sins. It was what she had come to me for.
She giggled again before answering.
"I get paid for them to call me whatever they want. Do you want to hear some of the names they call me?"
I frowned, confused by her, and leaned closer to the grill that separated us. "Them? Who are they?"
"The men who pay me to work for them."
I swallowed the sick feeling that churned in my stomach. Was she a lady of the night? A prostitute? It would explain her late night visit. Regardless, I would still hear and forgive her sins. I had the feeling she would be here for some time.
"If you wish to tell me what they call you, then please do."
"Well, my working name's Bunny Bells."
I cringed at what I viewed to be confirmation of her profession. Again I reminded myself of how young she sounded.
"I think I prefer Isabella," I offered quietly before asking what I already knew the answer to. "So, in what profession do you get the name Bunny Bells?"
She laughed, probably aware of the trite way in which I spoke.
"I'm an exotic dancer at Toots. I pole dance and lap dance, well mainly lap dance."
My eyes widened in shock at what she had said.
"You're a dancer?" I uttered my relieved words out loud.
"Yeah, that's what I just said." Her voice quietened as she added, "And that's why I'm here. I only started the job a month ago, but I kind of feel bad about what I do to the guys who come to see me."
My frown deepened, I knew what pole dancers did, but I was unaware of what exactly a lap dancer was.
"Why do you feel bad for the men? Surely they come to see you perform and pay you for your performance?"
"Well, sort of. Look, do you even know what a pole dancer is?"
"Yes, you dance around a pole in what would be classed as highly provocative clothing,"
"Not quite," she corrected me.
"Would you care to tell me where exactly my information is lacking?" I smiled at her deep sigh.
"My highly provocative clothing would be classed as nothing but a G-string. You do know what one of those is, don't you?"
My smile turned into a grin at her curiosity of my knowledge. "Yes, Isabella, I know what a G-string is."
"Really? Shit, I wouldn't have thought you'd ever have known about them, being a priest and all that."
"I may surprise you with what I know. But I must make a confession of my own. I am unfamiliar with a lap dance. What exactly does it involve?"
I heard her suck in a long breath. "Well… I basically get paid to grind my body all over the guy as he just sits there. He's not allowed to touch me. His hands must stay at his sides."
"Interesting," I mused, picturing exactly what she had just said.
"And I usually only have my G-string on when I do the lap dances. They pay really well. I'm quite popular."
"And that's all you do. There is nothing more expected of you?" I was concerned for her welfare.
"What do you… Oh shit, you mean sex. No, no, I don't ever have sex with them. It would be breaking the rules." A giggle sounded out from her, but I failed to understand her humour, although I was relieved she kept that part of herself from the men who frequented such places.
I cleared my throat, aware that she was speaking of such things and drawing me into a conversation I needed to extract myself from.
"May I ask why you have come here tonight? You say that you have sinned, but I rather think all the men who have paid you for your services should be sitting where you are."
"Maybe, but I have sinned, Father. I have made men behave in a certain way. I have seduced their minds and pushed them to the brink of their control."
"But they have chosen to be there."
"It doesn't make it right though."
"So you have come to ask for my forgiveness, for what exactly?" I prompted softly, thoroughly curious about what she would say.
"The fact that I abuse the power I have over the men who pay me. Of all the thirty men who paid for a lap dance this week, I know at least eleven of them came in their pants. It was my fault."
"You want my forgiveness for that?" I was shocked, concerned this was a cover for something more she was going to tell me.
"Yes, but I also need your forgiveness, because… because…"
"Because I enjoyed it."
They were words I had not expected to hear, and my whole body stiffened in shock.
"You enjoy it?"
"Yes. It's the power, the control. Not just the money."
I remained quiet, thinking about my next words.
Isabella spoke before I did. "Father, can you forgive me?"
I nodded before remembering she couldn't see me. "Yes, Isabella. Or course I forgive you. The Lord has given you tremendous strength and you are forgiven for everything. But I must warn you that you should change your behaviour. If you continue with your provocative ways you will continue to seek forgiveness."
"And my penance?"
It seemed that she didn't want to listen to my warning. I sighed before answering her. "Do you know the Rosary?" I thought it a fitting penance for her confession.
"Yes," Isabella said quietly.
"Then, that is your penance." I paused, thinking for an appropriate passage from the Bible to let her reflect upon. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen"
"Amen," I repeated after her, dipping my head as I acknowledged the Bible passage.
I was aware of movement in her side of the confessional box. She was about to leave, but something made me speak up. I didn't want her to leave and not come back. I suspected she might need my support in the future.
"Isabella?" I queried, "Please, be careful. And feel free to come to confession whenever you need to. I will always be here."
"Thank you, Father."
I heard her footsteps as she walked away, and leaned back in my seat. I thought I had heard everything. I had been wrong. I had never had a lap dancer confess to me, wanting forgiveness for what she did to the men who paid her to dance.
I was tempted to leave the confessional box and watch Isabella as she knelt at a pew and said her penance, but I remained where I was, knowing she would be at least twenty minutes. When I heard the main door of the church close I opened my side of the confessional box and stepped into the cool air of the church. I stretched my arms above my head, relieved to be free of the small space. Looking to the windows I could see the scattering of falling snow through the coloured glass. It was only the beginning of December. The snow had come early this year.
I sighed heavily before heading to the church doors and locking them. It was already two o'clock in the morning, and I had to check on Seth before I could settle myself for the night.
A week later, after midnight mass, I was crammed into the small space in the confessional box. I wondered whether Isabella would come to confession tonight. I had prayed for her every evening since her last visit. She sounded like a nice girl, thrown into something way over her head. She had said she enjoyed the control she had over the men who paid her. I didn't see it like that. The men ultimately had the control, they always did. Her sins seemed easy to forgive compared to others. I had just forgiven a man for sleeping with a woman who he knew to be married. He felt guilty because he had been rough with her, but hadn't stopped because it was what she had wanted. I knew he would be back soon. I had heard the excitement in his voice as he mentioned her liking for the roughness. He would not resist temptation when it was offered so freely to him. He would still see the woman even though I had told him it was not a good idea. God's forgiveness was unlimited, but I was beginning to wonder if mine was.
The next person shut their side of the door, positioning themselves on the kneeling cushion.
"Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been seven days since my last confession."
I recognised her voice immediately. "Isabella?"
"Yes, Father. It's me."
I smiled, hearing the playfulness of her reply.
"Were you expecting someone else?" she asked.
I chuckled at her response.
"You could have been anyone, but I recognised your voice. I am also somewhat relieved you have come to confession tonight."
"I have worried about your safety. And I have prayed for you every day since your last confession."
"You should have prayed for the men as well."
I thought about what she had said, and realised she was right. Where had my prayers been for the men?
"So, Isabella," I said, regaining my train of thought, "What do you need to confess to me tonight?"
"Much the same, really. Do you want numbers? How many men I lap danced for, how many times I was asked to perform privately?"
"Perform privately?" I leaned forward in the confined space, my worry building again. Performing while surrounded by other people seemed safe enough, but a private performance sounded dangerous for her.
"We have private rooms. If a man pays enough he gets a private dance, you know, just him and me."
"I am concerned the situation is incredibly unsafe for you. How many men want a private dance?"
She surprised me by laughing.
"Father, they all want a private dance, but I'm expensive. Not many can afford me."
I rubbed my forehead before pinching the top of my nose.
"I wish there was another way for you to make a living. Have you looked for something else?" I hoped she had, but knew her answer before she said it.
"No. Hey, I'm incredibly good at my job. A bit like you, really."
"Pardon?" I saw no similarity between our roles in life.
"Well, you are really good at your job. Have you ever thought about giving it up?"
I managed a rueful smile at her question. If she only knew how long I had been fighting with the idea
"It is always good practice to keep our options open, Isabella."
"But you must have been a priest for years. Are you telling me you'd give it all up at your age? What would you do?"
"At my age?" I laughed quietly. "Bella, I am only twenty-seven."
"Twenty-seven!" she shrieked. "Oh shit, I've been admitting my sins to a man only four years older than myself, I thought you'd be way older. You sound so… so knowledgeable."
"I didn't know what a lap dance was," I reminded her.
"Yeah, well, I'll give you that one."
"A lap dance?" Was she seriously offering me a dance?
"No, shit, no, sorry, I didn't mean that."
I chuckled at her embarrassment before remembering I was behaving in a way that was not expected of me. I huffed. This was my problem. I was becoming too involved. Not just with Isabella, but with everyone I came into contact with. My life was quiet, the days spent between the church and my apartment across the road. When I wasn't in church, I was preparing sermons, or reading the Bible in the sprawling space where I lived. Over the past few months I had begun to feel lonely. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be couples. They held hands, kissed in the streets. Their sounds of laughter drifted through my windows, and I felt like I was missing out. It was hardly the way a priest should be feeling. I knew that. At least Seth offered some companionship. We discussed the world at large, and talked about the Bible. He had said he wanted to be like me. I doubted his words, he didn't know me properly. He didn't know my past. He was an intelligent boy, and even though he thought he needed my guidance, I knew he didn't. He would leave when it suited him, and by the faraway look he often had on his face, I thought it would be soon.
I was aware of Isabella calling me. I had drifted away into my own worries and insecurities. This was the problem. I had no idea how long I could continue living like this.
"Isabella, I am sorry."
"Where did you drift off to? You weren't visualising one of my private dances, were you?"
I chuckled, again, at her question.
"No Isabella, I hardly think my limited imagination would do you justice."
"I know it wouldn't."
I sensed she was smiling, and raised my brow. Was she actually flirting with me?
"Isabella, I presume you came to confession tonight because you had something to confess." I tried not to sound harsh as I spoke, but I was becoming distracted by her presence, and I needed to concentrate. She wasn't helping.
"I… yes, I do."
I had failed. The tone of my voice had startled her, perhaps even upset her. I wondered if I had been right with my assumption that she had been flirting with me.
"Then, please," I spoke the words softly, resting the side of my head against the grill that separated us, "Tell me what you wish to confess."
I heard her draw in a deep breath. "I performed forty-three lap dances this week. I know thirteen of them came in their pants. I also performed four private dances. All of them came as well."
I closed my eyes, trying not to dwell on a picture that had formed in my mind of what she did to cause them such a reaction.
"And you seek forgiveness for them, or for yourself?"
"For me, Father. I caused them to sin. I enjoyed seeing the look on their faces when they came. I enjoyed the control. That is my sin, and for it I ask the Lord's forgiveness."
It was my turn to draw in a deep breath before I spoke. "Your sins have been absolved in the eyes of God." I paused before reciting a passage from the Bible. "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Amen."
I waited for Isabella to speak. I was curious as to whether she had anything else to say.
"Thank you, Father. Is there not a penance this week?"
I couldn't trust myself to not step out into the church and watch her as she said her penance. I had struggled to stay away from her last week. It would be impossible now. But I knew I wanted her to come to confession again. She needed to confess, it gave her peace of mind, freedom from the guilt for what she had done during the week.
"But, I ask that you come to confession again next week."
"I shall, Father. I promise."
I listened to her footsteps as she left the church. When I was sure she had gone I stepped out of the confessional box. I felt in need of confessing myself. When I'd locked the main doors to the church I knelt at the foot of the altar.
I bowed my head before closing my eyes.
"Forgive me, Lord, for I have sinned. I have failed. I am failing. My calling to serve you, oh great and Almighty God, is coming to an end.
Since Isabella's last visit, my dreams had been full of scantily clad dancers. I normally never dreamt of such blasphemous things, but it seemed my subconscious had other ideas. The expanse of my large bed, a king-size mattress on the floor, covered in white sheets, felt like an ocean of loneliness. I started to have dreams of someone sleeping next to me, and woke up every time in a hot sweat, only to be disappointed when there was no-one there. My thoughts were becoming difficult to control.
Even when I ventured on to the roof of my apartment block, I couldn't stop thinking about her. I always climbed the single flight of stairs from my apartment to the roof when I needed to think. I used to spend hours there, pondering my thoughts. In summer I had been known to write complete sermons while basking in the sun's heat. Unfortunately, my recent trips up there to try and clear my head had very little effect.
Isabella came to confession every Sunday after midnight mass, and I found myself looking forward to her visits. She teased me, flirted with me, asked me completely random questions and even several completely inappropriate ones. While I enjoyed her company, however ridiculous it seemed with her on one side of the confessional box, and me on the other, I was aware I was her priest. It sometimes became easy to forget that fact as I lost myself in talking to her, but I had to keep pulling myself back and reminding myself of the reason she had come to see me. She needed to confess.
My loneliness increased tenfold just before Christmas. Seth left. He had turned eighteen, and was no longer in need of an adult to care for him. He was legally free to go wherever he wanted, with whomever he wanted. He had left with a girl, with promises to me that he would write. He would always thank me for saving him, but the church life wasn't for him. He had winked at me, and said he loved women more. I couldn't argue with his reasoning when I saw the look he gave the girl standing next to him. How could I?
After a Christmas spent alone, I found myself in a cheerful mood the Sunday after. I knew it was because I'd speak to Isabella tonight. I rubbed at the back of my head before scratching my neck. The haircut I had received yesterday had left several short prickly hairs on the white collar around my neck. I needed to change it, but was too eager to get to the confessional box. Isabella was becoming the highlight of my week, and I knew my time serving God was coming to an end much earlier than I had anticipated. If I couldn't forget about Isabella, a woman I hadn't even seen properly, a woman whose imagined form filled my dreams, and whose presence seemed to fill my bed, then there was nothing else I could do. I had to either ignore her – send her on her way to another priest, or I had to leave the church. My decision was already made.
I was uncomfortable with the situation that made her visit me every Sunday at such a late hour, but her job made her finish at such a time. She knew I would wait for her, I knew I would wait for her, even though every week I promised myself I wouldn't.
She would be here soon.
The main door of the church slammed shut. I knew it was her, so did every fibre of my being. As the heels of her shoes tip tapped across the floor I straightened up, preparing myself for her words. I wondered what she would tell me tonight.
As usual, the door to the confessional box opened on the other side of the grill that separated the confessor's area from mine. And, as she always did, Isabella knelt down in her side of the box.
"Forgive me, Father for I have sinned. It has been seven days since my last confession."
"Go on, child of our Lord Almighty."
"I have many things to tell you tonight. This week I have sinned many times. I…I…" She stopped talking.
She seemed hesitant tonight, nervous even. I hoped she hadn't committed the ultimate sin and given in to her lust. I would find that hard to forgive, but not because I was her priest.
"Don't worry about what you have to tell me, Isabella," I said, "As I have told you before, I am bound by the seal of the confessional to never reveal what is said during confession."
"Thank you, Father. But, I do not worry about you talking to anyone about my confessions. It is something else."
"And can you tell me what it is you worry about?"
She didn't continue, but I found myself leaning nearer to the grill.
"Tell me," I asked, hearing her draw in a long breath.
"I'm worried about you."
"Me? Why Isabella? Why do you worry about me?"
"Because you're stuck in your little box, all cramped up, listening to me telling you which men I caused to shoot their load in their trousers because of what I do to them."
I closed my eyes. I had never visited one of the clubs where Isabella worked, but I could easily picture the scene in my head. She had made sure from her frequent visits that I had a very good visual of where she worked and what she did there.
"Sorry…" her quiet voice whispered through the grill.
"It is not me you should be worried for. It is yourself. I know I have asked before, but are you sure there are no other means for you to fund yourself? Somewhere away from the pit of sin you have found yourself thrown into?"
"Father, I didn't throw myself into the pit unwillingly. I wanted to go there."
My breath hitched. I visualised her twirling around the solid dancing pole, her legs spread either side of the cold metal. My eyes snapped open.
"Isabella," I knew my tone of voice will have startled her. "You sound intelligent, I am sure you could find other, suitable employment."
"Maybe I could. But I enjoy my work."
"Enjoy? How can you enjoy violating yourself in such a way?"
"I've told you. I like the power I have over the men at the club. I'm not into role playing or anything in real life, but I want a man to know what he's doing. He has to know how to turn me on, which buttons to press."
"Buttons to press?"
"Yep. Things like licking my nipples, nibbling at my neck, fucking me with his fingers."
"Isabella! Enough! You cannot and will not bring such talk to confession."
"Sorry, Father." I sensed a smile cover her lips. "What do you like?"
"What do you like a woman to do to you?"
I chuckled at her question, relieving some of the tension her words had created.
"Isabella, I am a priest. I took a vow of celibacy when I first entered the church. I do not allow myself to think of such things." I realised I'd lied. Right here, in the confessional box. I closed my eyes and silently sought God's forgiveness. The only reason I'd lied, the reason I'd had the need to do so, was because the person who had made me think differently was on the other side of the screen.
"So, you never think about fucking a woman?"
"Isabella…" I warned her.
"But you must have made love to someone, or thought about it. It's not normal to live without sex."
"There is more to life than sex."
"Love then. Have you never loved anyone?"
"I love all my fellow humans. They are all special."
"No, not like that. Have you never wanted to make love to a woman, feel the heat of her body next to your own?"
"I have no need for such a feeling in my life. I was well aware of the sacrifices I made when I committed to my life here." Why did I feel like I was lying to her again? I breathed in deeply and was immediately surrounded by her scent. She smelt like the roses we had in the church garden. I smiled, realising I would never look at a rose in the same way again.
"Have you any tattoos?" she suddenly asked.
"Tattoos?" I laughed again at her question.
"I have, but I'm not telling you where."
"I should think it will be somewhere you need to keep it hidden."
I had come to know her so well over the past few weeks.
"Hmmm… maybe. But I'm not telling you what it's of, either."
"Then you should keep it a secret. Only ever reveal it to a man who will care for you in the way you deserve."
She was quiet. There was no snarky response this time, just the sound of her heavy breathing.
"Are you okay?" I asked, resting my head higher on the grill.
"I'm fine." Her voice had quietened. Part of me wanted to rip away the barrier between us and lift her into my arms. I wanted to hold her and make sure she was more than okay. I wanted to save her from the life she had chosen. The problem was that she didn't want to be saved. She just wanted to confess.
"So… do you want to hear my confessions this week, Father?"
Whatever had quietened her a few moments ago had obviously disappeared.
"It's why you are here. Tell me what has brought you here, tonight."
"This week has been pretty normal."
I grinned at her use of the word normal. There was nothing normal about her life, nothing at all.
"I had the day off on Monday. Slept all day, like I usually do. Tuesday through to yesterday was quiet. There didn't seem to be many stag parties in town this week. But you should know. How many marriages have you blessed this week?"
"Two, yesterday," I confirmed.
"Well, they didn't come to 'Toots'."
I cringed at the name of the club she worked at. I hated it.
"I've done five pole dances, twenty-six lap dances, and six private dances this week. Nine of the men came in their pants, three of them tried to grab a feel of me. But tonight, before I came here…well…"
"Go on. I am ready to hear your full confession." Nothing she had told me so far was any different from her usual activities.
"A man came in with a few others, they were all dressed up in fancy dress – they'd been to a tarts and vicars party. I did a lap dance for one of them. He was dressed like a priest, and not only did he come in his pants, I had an orgasm while performing."
"Isabella," her name rolled off my tongue as if a mantra.
"I'm sorry, Father. But do you know what I thought about when I was gyrating on him, when I could feel his dick stirring against me?"
"No." I was aware of my own body stirring. This was unacceptable. I couldn't allow myself to feel like this – not at confession. My hands pressed down on my rising hardness under my vestment.
"All I could think about was you. I let him put his hands on his lap. I gyrated on his knuckles so I could rub over them. I pictured you all the time I was performing. I had an orgasm because I imagined it was your knuckles, your hands. It was you."
I groaned, tipping my head back and hitting it hard on the back of the wooden wall of the confessional box.
"Father?" Isabella's voice sounded out, but I was unaware of anything other than my stiffness which I was trying to hide. Why did she get to me so much?
"Father, are you okay?" The grill that separated us slid away and I was confronted with my angelic tormentor. "Oh…" was all she said as she looked at the state of me. My hands were pressed over the obvious bulge of my groin.
"I'm sorry," I managed to mutter, but it was too late, she had turned and was running from me. This time her shoes were a noisy clatter as she headed out of the church.
I stayed in the confessional box, trying to calm myself. I started reciting the Bible in my head, muttering the words out loud when they had no effect on my body. It had been years since I had allowed myself to react this way. Cold showers and the harsh words of my bishop had been enough to stop any further thoughts of self-gratification. It seemed that now I had let it happen, there was no way to dispel it.
I pictured every calming thing I could think of. I reminded myself of my vows, of my life I had given to God. My body slowly relaxed, and I walked away from the confession box into the main church, heading straight to the steps at the foot of the altar. I knelt before Him.
"Forgive me, Lord, for I am unable to resist temptation."
The following week was a blur. I spent most of my time at my apartment, or on the roof, unable to stay in the confines of the church for any length of time. I felt like He was judging me, frowning down on me for the decision He knew I was going to make. Each day I would question my motives for leaving. Was the loneliness a good enough reason to leave? Was I willing to spend the rest of my life without a woman at my side? I wondered whether Isabella would bother with me when I was no longer her priest. Who would look out for her, who would hear her confessions when I wasn't there to listen to them? Would the next priest offer a sympathetic ear to her confessions, or would he scold her, give her penances and tell her to leave her job? I pulled my hands through my hair sighing loudly as I rubbed my forehead. Was all this about Isabella? I didn't think so. I'd had doubts for some time about continuing my life as a priest. Isabella was the person who had made me think about it even more. She was, without knowing, forcing me to accept a decision I had been putting off.
To make things worse, and to only fuel my worry for her safety, Isabella never came to confession after mass the following Sunday. I worried it was because she had seen the state of me last week. Had she seen that I was holding my erection through my clothes? Had I frightened her? Did she feel she couldn't confess to me any longer?
The week following Isabella's no show was a long and tiresome one. I was continually fighting with myself over my decisions. They never got any easier. It was Saturday when I eventually picked up the phone and rang my Bishop. He tried to persuade me to stay, he told me I was highly thought of, and my presence would be greatly missed. But when I explained to him why I couldn't live my life any longer as a true and devoted Catholic, he supported my decision to leave. He forgave me all my sinful thoughts before telling me I would be replaced by Father Whitlock on Monday morning. I was granted redemption from all my services to the church and reminded of the ones that were not so easy to cut my ties from. He asked that I take the service tomorrow morning, and confession after mass tomorrow night. I agreed, knowing the time would allow me one more confession from Isabella – if she showed up.
Midnight mass was a quiet affair. There were not many people in the congregation and I scanned their faces as I read the final passage of my sermon. It would be my last ever reading to a congregation. I looked at the smattering of familiar faces before me, smiling at each and every one of them. I had known them all for seven years. As my eyes scanned across the pews I saw an unfamiliar face - a young woman with long blonde hair. She looked down as my eyes drifted to her.
After mass I headed to the confession box. It felt strange knowing this would be my last time taking confession. It was a relief in some ways. I had found myself becoming too attached to the people who had problems; too involved in solving their issues rather than offering my understanding and forgiveness. But I would miss Isabella with her cheeky words and the playful way she teased me.
There were only two people waiting to confess tonight. One had wanted forgiveness for shouting at a boy who lived next door to him. He had climbed the fence to retrieve his football. The other had spent the afternoon in the police cells, guilty of shop-lifting.
No-one else came to confess. I waited for half an hour after the time Isabella usually arrived, but eventually gave up – just like last week.
I emerged from the confession box before heading into the main church to lock the doors. Isabella hadn't come to confession tonight, and I felt guilty. I was sure she was staying away because of what had happened two weeks ago.
I struggled to understand my disappointment. No woman had ever affected me this way, and my vow of celibacy had never come into question. But now, I felt like I had betrayed my vows, given in to the first temptation that came my way. I had spent all of my days praying for forgiveness and asked the Lord not to let me dream of her in the evenings.
He had not heard my prayers.
As I wandered into the church I smelt roses. I stood still, breathing in deeply. I recognised the scent. I knew she was here. I looked to the pews, and saw a person kneeling on the floor between the wooden benches.
Was it Isabella? Had she come to church tonight after all?
I walked as slowly as my feet would let me. It was only when I was at the end of the pew that I knew for certain it was her. Her blonde hair hung over her face as she looked down at the floor.
I moved along the pew and knelt next to her before closing my eyes and silently offering my prayers to the Lord. I tried to avoid the way her closeness affected me. It was as if all reason disintegrated when she was near me. My mind became blank when I felt her hand wrap around mine.
"Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned," she said quietly.
I made no effort to move my hand, and I felt unable to respond.
"I have coveted something that is not mine." I heard her voice break as she finished her sentence.
I turned towards her, offering my words of comfort. "It is natural to feel jealous of something you want. But there will always be others that have things you desire."
A loud sob escaped her and her hand tightened around mine before she turned to face me. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she continued looking at me.
"You're gorgeous," she mumbled, smiling weakly.
"Shhh…" I reached to her face and wiped her tears with my fingers. "What is it that has you so upset?" This was the first time I had seen her properly, and I gazed at her, stunned with her beauty.
"I watched you, you know? I was in the congregation this evening," she sniffed.
The realisation of the mystery blonde was revealed. It had been Isabella.
"I know. I saw you," I whispered, looking into her eyes for any recognition of what was bothering her so much.
She caught my gaze and sniffed even louder.
"What has you so upset, Isabella? Is it because of what you can't have? Is this your confession tonight?"
She nodded, looking towards the roof of the church.
"Tell me," I coaxed, lightly trailing my thumb across her cheek.
"It's you!" she cried. "You! I want you."
I backed away immediately. Years of training had not equipped me with the knowledge of how to deal with this. I stood in the nave, my eyes fixed on her as her shoulders dropped towards the floor.
"You… you can't." I had no other words. Had she not been the woman who had taken over my dreams for the past weeks? My decision to leave the church had been finalised by her visits. I couldn't stay impassive where she was concerned. It wasn't fair to either of us. I couldn't believe she felt anything for me other than that of her priest, the man she confessed to.
"I know." Her heavy sigh shook with emotion.
I pressed my fingers against the bridge of my nose, annoyed with myself for reacting the way I had. Isabella stared at the floor, her shoulders lifting and falling heavily as she tried to hold her tears in. Were they all because of me?
"Why didn't you come to confession tonight, or last week?" I asked, hoping to give her something else to concentrate on.
A small whimper escaped her. "If only you knew."
I raised my brow at her comment.
"Has something happened?"
She didn't reply.
"Isabella, have you something to tell me?"
"I couldn't come to confession last Sunday. My boss made me work late."
"I would have waited for you. I would have been here. You know that."
"Not until six in the morning. I wanted to come and confess… to see you, but I couldn't."
"Why did you work so late?"
"I told you," she sounded exasperated with me. "Jake made me."
"Jake, is he your boss?"
"It was because of what happened earlier in the evening." Her head dropped again.
"Isabella, please, tell me." I was worried things had got out of hand. Why else would she have had to work so late?
"I've become very popular at Toots. I've been making good money because all the men want a private dance from me."
The hairs on my neck bristled at her words. I couldn't deny the jealous feeling that ran through me. It bothered me that she performed for other men. I suddenly realised I couldn't keep this distance between us any longer. I was caving in, knowing I was leaving the priesthood, that I would be free to lead a somewhat normal life. I was a fool to have ever tried to deny my feelings for her.
I took a step towards her, closing some of the gap I had created earlier.
"Jake takes a large cut of the money we make from our dances," Isabella continued, "But this man who had asked for a private dance was a friend of Jakes. He wanted more."
"Sex, Father. He wanted to have sex with me."
Her words angered me. Not because of the language she was using. I heard worse. I'd even used worse when I was young.
"And what did you do?" I prayed in my mind, 'Dear Lord Almighty, please let her have refused.'
"I refused him, of course. I'm not a prostitute!"
I seemed to have offended her.
"Jake was furious. Not just because the man was a friend of his, but because he would have paid a lot of money to be with me. I had to stay until the morning and work for free. All my tips, all my fees went to Jake. He also threw me out of my flat." Her tears started again. "I've been homeless for the last week."
"Isabella, you should have come to me."
"How could I? My feelings were, are, not what you want. I could hardly land on your doorstep asking for help. It wouldn't be right. You confirmed everything I feared when you backed away from me a few moments ago."
I regretted my sharp reaction, the way I had fled from her words. I wanted to put it right.
"Isabella…" I opened my arms to her, "Come here."
She looked at me, confusion written all over her face.
"Come here," I repeated.
As if in slow motion, she slowly stood up before walking to me. As soon as she was in front of me, I closed my arms around her, wrapping her tightly in my protective hold. This was not a show of comfort a priest would give a member of his congregation, and I hoped she knew it. Her tears broke free, falling at an alarming rate as huge sobs wracked her whole body. It felt good to have this contact with her, feel her moving while held in my arms. There was nothing priestly about the way I felt about her, but this was God's church, and I pushed away my urges, settling on kissing the top of her head. She sniffed loudly, rubbing her nose against my purple stole. I smiled realising it would be ruined. It seemed quite fitting really.
A loud sigh escaped her.
"You're safe now," I told her, "You have no need to turn out into the cold tonight."
"Do you know somewhere I can stay?"
"Yes. With me."
She pushed her hands against my chest, leaning back as I relaxed my hold of her.
"I… I can't."
"You can. But only if you want to." My eyes searched hers, looking for the final confirmation that I wasn't jumping to the wrong conclusion. Her eyes seemed to mirror mine, before a small smile pulled at the corner of her lips.
"I want to," she murmured.
Her face moved nearer to mine, her eyes focusing on my eyes before lowering to my lips. I closed my eyes as the softness of her lips met mine. Every part of me wanted this, needed more, craved all of her, but not here. I pulled my lips away from hers before grabbing both of her wrists and pushing her back against the end of the wooden pew.
"Not here," I practically growled into her ear.
"Wait there," I instructed before striding to the main door of the church. I locked it and turned back to face the front of the building. I took one last look at the church that was no longer mine. My replacement would be here in the morning - my ties to the building were already severed. Unfortunately, my other vows were not so easily broken. But as I looked back at Isabella, standing exactly where I had left her, her chest rising and falling as she breathed hard and shallow, I doubted they would still be in place by the morning.
I strode towards Isabella and reached for her hand.
"Come with me," I instructed, pulling her behind me and through the door that led to the private part of the church. Neither of us spoke as I pulled my coat on and unlocked the door. As we stepped outside into the flurry of snow, our eyes met. I smiled at her before continuing to head to our destination.
The snow was still falling when we reached the bottom of the building where my apartment was. Both of us were covered by a dusting of snow on our heads and shoulders. I held her hand even tighter as I led her through the door to the building and to the elevator. She still didn't question my motives or where we were going. As the doors shut, I closed my eyes, focusing my mind. It was taking me all my strength not to turn around and push her against the wall of the elevator and kiss her, but I was afraid that once I gave in to my feelings there would be no stopping me. It had been so long.
"Father?" Isabella's quite voice disturbed my thoughts again.
I turned to look at her, knowing my pupils would be dilated, looking dark and dangerous. I heard her breath catch in her throat before she took a step towards me.
"Stay there," I ordered. I couldn't have her any closer, not here.
The elevator shuddered to a stop and I stepped onto the roof of the building, immediately feeling the rush of fresh air clear my foggy head.
"You can see for miles up here!" I shouted, heading into the centre of the space.
She laughed. Running to the edge of the building and looking at the streets below.
"You have the whole city at your feet, Isabella. Tell me, what do you want to do? Who do you want to scream at? Do it, from here!"
"Is it because I'm nearer to God up here?"
I laughed, "No, I don't think so. We're still on solid ground, just looking down on people."
It was hard to see anything on the streets below us. The snow was coming down even heavier now, but Isabella seemed exhilarated by the situation.
I watched her, appreciating her beauty in a way I had never been able to before. She was petite, her loose long blonde hair blowing around her face, resisting her attempts to tame it and tuck it behind her ears. As she pushed herself back from the edge of the building she spun around in a circle, laughing even more as she looked up at the snow laden sky. Her carefree nature was a wonderful thing to witness. It made me confident that I'd made the right decision. I didn't feel any loss now the church wasn't part of my life, and I knew it was because of Isabella. I also knew I could never leave the church completely, my ties and the life I had lived would always remain within me. I wouldn't change into a completely different person just because I wasn't a priest any longer.
"This is wonderful, Father. I'm so glad you brought me up here. I feel free!" She raised her arms out to her sides and continued turning on the spot. She wasn't the only one who felt free. I had come here for both of us, not just her.
"Isabella," I called. "You'll get dizzy if you carry on doing that."
As soon as I had spoken my warning she drifted sideways, completely disorientated. I stepped up to her and pulled her against me. She looked up, studying my expression before lifting her hand to my face and tracing her fingers over my cheek.
"I meant what I said earlier," she whispered.
"And what was that?" My mind was befuddled, racing with all sorts of thoughts that I couldn't contain.
"That you're gorgeous."
"You flatter me," I smiled, "I think you are the one with a beauty that is too great for words."
I saw a blush rise on her cheeks, and I brought my own hand to her face, gently touching the redness that had formed. I couldn't stop myself, not now. My hand pushed her hair away from her face before my thumb rubbed gently behind her ears. I heard the soft moan escape her as I moved closer. She had kissed me earlier, a slow peck on the lips. I wanted more. I tenderly placed my lips on hers, testing her, waiting to see if this was what she wanted. Her kiss earlier may not have been made with the same intention mine was being made now. When she didn't pull away I snaked my hand up against her neck, holding her still as my mouth pressed against hers with more urgency. As I deepened the kiss, her mouth yielded to mine, opening as I explored it with my tongue.
The snow swirled around us as I pulled her even tighter against my whole body. It was only when I heard myself groan, a response to our kiss, that I slowly pulled away.
"My name's Edward," I told her. "Don't call me Father anymore."
A wide smile gradually pulled at her lips.
"Edward," she repeated, testing my name for the first time, and damn it, if I didn't love the way she said a name I had not heard for years. I crashed my lips onto hers again, wasting no time in claiming her mouth as my own this time. I felt the surge of energy coursing through my body, the old and practically forgotten feeling of arousal began to heighten my senses, blocking out everything else around us. It was just Isabella and me. I felt her shudder, and realised it may not be from my kissing, but the intense cold seeping through our coats.
"Let's get inside," I suggested as I broke away from her lips.
"Where the hell did you learn to kiss like that?" she asked, "You're a priest. You shouldn't even know how to kiss."
I chuckled at her assumption. "I lived quite a colourful life before I committed to the church." Maybe it was why she appealed to me so much. Did I see myself in her?
"But I presumed you'd never… well, you know."
I smiled before taking her hand and leading her down a flight of stairs and into the corridor of the twenty-seventh floor. I unlocked the door to my apartment, letting Isabella enter first.
I stayed at the door, leaning on it as she walked slowly into the room taking in every surface, every item of furniture she saw.
"Is this what the church provides for you?"
"No, this is all mine. There is a small cottage at the back of the church I could have stayed in, but I prefer to have my own space."
"No bed?" Her eyes darted up to my face as I advanced towards her.
"Yes, it's through there." I indicated to a closed door with a nod of my head.
She followed my gaze.
"Can I see?"
I grinned at her curiosity. "Of course."
I saw her cheeks colour again as she began to walk to my bedroom. I followed.
As she pushed the door open I was right behind her, letting her feel my body as I pressed against her back.
"Do you approve?" I breathed against her ear.
"Yes," herwords were a gush of air, hardly spoken.
I looked at where her gaze was fixed – my bed. There was no bed frame, just a large mattress on the floor covered in white sheets. The rest of my bedroom was a mismatch of items collected from my trips abroad when I first joined the church. I had travelled extensively as part of my introduction to the priesthood.
"Do you need to freshen up?" I asked, aware she had been homeless for the past week.
She continued staring at my bed.
"You'll like the bed even more when we're in it," I told her. My words were the first ones I had spoken that informed her of my intentions. The way her eyes widened reassured me she wanted the same.
"You took a vow of celibacy. I can't be responsible for you breaking that vow."
"Isabella," I pulled at the white collar still fastened around my neck, and threw it to the floor. "I was officially released from my duties when confession finished earlier this evening. My replacement will take over in the morning."
I pulled my coat off, throwing it on a nearby chair before unbuttoning and removing my vestment. I sat on the edge of the mattress dressed in what I always wore underneath my vestment - my black trousers and a t-shirt, and began to unlace my shoes as I explained.
"I have had…well…issues with my calling for the last few years. Over the last few months they have become too strong for me to ignore. While part of me will always yearn for the peace and solitude to serve our Lord, it is no longer the life I want to live."
Isabella slipped her own coat off, placing it on top of mine before turning to face me. She was wearing nothing but skin coloured panties and a white vest that was practically see-through.
"Why didn't you tell me you only had that on underneath your coat?"
"You never asked."
"You must have been freezing outside." I swallowed loudly as she prowled towards me. She was everything I had visualised in my dreams. The devil had painted a perfect picture of her flesh and curves. She crawled onto the mattress beside me.
"I had a shower before I came to church tonight," she whispered.
"But, I thought you said you were homeless."
"I am, I stayed with a friend all week, but it was only temporary. She needed me to leave."
"So you'll stay here?"
"Only if you want me to."
My heart seemed to stutter in my chest.
"Of course I want you to stay. I'd like you to."
She suddenly bounced across the mattress before standing in front of me again, only this time she was inches from me, not several steps away. My eyes were level with the top of her thighs.
"Can I show you a lap dance?" she announced.
My brows shot high on my face.
"No, Isabella. There will be no need to lap dance tonight."
I saw her bottom lip jut out.
"Is that a pout I see?" I asked.
She grinned, before skipping out of the room.
"What are you doing?" I shouted, curious. When she didn't respond, I lay down on the mattress behind me. I was grateful I had a few moments to compose myself. It was time to push my last remaining doubt aside. I had committed many sins in my life before I joined the priesthood. I had disobeyed nearly all of the ten commandments. But now I was ready to walk away from the life I had lived for seven years. I had served Him well. I had dedicated all of myself to Him. Now I needed to live for the moment – for me.
I closed my eyes, preparing to offer a prayer to our Lord. But I couldn't think what to say. Should I thank Him, say goodbye? Should I pray for my future, for what I was about to do?
"Hey?" Isabella was back, moving across the mattress towards me. "Were you praying?" she asked, shuffling nearer.
"No, although I should."
"Why? Because you are about to commit a sin?"
I turned to face her, lightly cupping her chin with my hand. "I am about to commit the biggest sin of my life."
"But, you're not a priest anymore, your vow of celibacy's cancelled."
"No, it's not," I told her. "My vow of chastity can only be dispensed by the Pope, and I can assure you I have not spoken to the Pope over the last few days."
"Shit indeed, Isabella."
I leaned forward capturing her lips with mine as she spoke against my mouth.
"But we can't then… you…"
I silenced her with another kiss, wrapping my arms around her as I twisted her on to her back. I drew away from her so I could look at her face, but remained at her side letting my fingers caress her exposed skin as hers reached for my neck, wanting to drag me back for another kiss.
"If you were serious about lap dancing for me, I don't think you'd be wearing these," I practically growled as I pulled the elastic of her panties, letting it snap back onto her bottom. "Where's the G-string?"
A smile covered her face, but she didn't respond.
I tried not to smile back as she pushed my chest and rolled on top of me.
"I left my G-strings behind. They're not the most comfortable of items to wear when I'm not working. Besides, if I was giving you a lap dance I'd give you a naked one."
She kissed my lips, silencing my response.
My hands tightened their hold on her hips as she kissed away from my mouth, pressing small lingering kisses along my jaw. It was only when she slid lower, following the muscle in the side of my neck that I murmured her name.
"Edward," she responded, pulling at the hem of my t-shirt, "We need this off."
I duly obliged, dragging the offending t-shirt over my head before lying back down. I liked that she was positioned on top of me, that she wanted to take control. I'd let her have her way for now.
She stared at me, her eyes taking in every detail of my naked chest.
"Oh my," she muttered, her eyes presumably catching sight of my tattoo. Her fingers lightly traced the curved design that ran from the left side of my stomach before snaking down under the top of my trousers. "You said you didn't have a tattoo."
I shook my head. "You asked me if I had one, I never answered."
She bent her head, covering the black intricate design with her mouth, kissing the twisting design, and heading closer to the top of my trousers.
"I want to kiss all of it," she breathed huskily as her fingers started to pop the buttons on my trousers.
"And you can, but not yet." I twisted quickly, throwing my weight over so I was on top of her. "You seriously have too many clothes on if you want me to make love to you."
Her rapid breathing startled me.
"What's wrong?" I asked, "Is this not what you want? Have I misread you so easily?"
"No," she shook her head quickly. "I…I want this so much. But you just said we were going to make love, not just have sex."
"I've never had a man make love to me."
I leaned over her to kiss her forehead. "But you've had sex, you're not a virgin?"
"No. Are you?"
"Definitely not. I told you, I was a bit of a bad boy before I committed to the church. It's just been a while."
"Over seven years," I confirmed, smiling at her expression. I couldn't work out whether she was shocked or pleased with my announcement.
"So," I continued, trailing my kisses along the side of her face and onto her neck, "You've had sex, but never made love. Has a man ever made you scream his name in ecstasy when he made you come?"
"No," her answer was a practical groan as my lips moved along the top of her collarbone, drifting lower.
I nudged the top of the loose fitting vest across her chest, exposing a perfect round breast and an even more beautiful raised pink nipple. As I took the hard bud into my mouth, Isabella arched her back from the mattress and moaned my name.
My memories came flooding back; the way I liked to tease a woman with my mouth, the easy way I could cause an orgasm with my tongue. I remembered how I liked to feel a woman's lips wrapped around me, and how it felt to be buried deep inside her warmth. Had I really ignored these feelings for the last seven years of my life? I had practised celibacy while serving God, I had also never gratified my own sexual needs. Masturbation was frowned upon, and as such, I had never even touched myself in a sexual way. I knew, from the way Isabella's hands were drifting along my back and to my trousers, that I would soon feel the touch of a woman on me. I needed to concentrate.
I closed my eyes, focusing on Isabella and the small sounds she was making. I let my mouth lead me blindly to her other breast and paid renewed attention to this nipple - rolling it with my tongue before sucking, then nipping it with my teeth. Another guttural groan flew from Isabella and I smirked at her reaction. Kissing back up her neck, I captured her mouth with my own, silencing her moans as her body writhed beneath me. I thrust against her, feeling her legs fall to the sides.
"Good girl," I whispered against her lips, "But we have to do better than that."
I sat up, kneeling between her legs before pulling her vest over her head. I threw it to the side, watching the flimsy fabric flutter to the floor. I stared at her as she lay beneath me, her arms still above her head from when I had removed her vest.
"Stay like that," I told her.
I narrowed my eyes as she called me Father, but saw the blush across her face and her teeth biting at her bottom lip.
"You want to call me Father?"
Her silent nod was her confirmation. I knew it was blasphemous, that I would burn in Hell for it. But I reasoned that if I was going to Hell, I may as well enjoy the actions that would send me there.
"You are going to have to confess everything to me later on. I will give you every possible penance I can for your sins."
"And what about yours, Father?"
"My sins will stay with me until the day I die." It was true. I would never confess to another priest or bishop or anyone else in the church of what I was about to do. I could live with that, with this, with whatever it was between Isabella and me.
"I'll forgive you," Isabella said quietly. "I'll forgive you anything."
I smiled at her as she lay before me.
"And what gives you the authority to forgive my sins?" I asked as I slipped my hands into both sides of her panties and began to pull them down her legs. She drew her knees up to her chest, letting me remove her last remaining item of clothing.
"I have no authority, none whatsoever. But I would forgive you anything you asked."
"That is very generous of you, and should be rewarded."
She returned her legs to either side of me, and I took in the beauty of her full naked form. I saw her tattoo; a red rose permanently painted into her skin. It was just above the place where I wanted my mouth to be.
"Reward me then Father," she murmured.
"I intend to."
I bent down between her legs, pushing her thighs further apart before flattening my tongue against her. She smelt divine, but her taste was even better. It was incredible. Memories, so many memories... names lost in a sea of many. But I had never experienced such an overpowering feeling of carnal lust and possession as I did now. I circled her clit with my tongue, before licking either side of it, pushing my mouth lower before moving back again, sucking on the hardening, swollen tip.
When I recalled what she had admitted to me in the confessional box about how she liked to be touched, I pressed my fingers against her, slowly sliding one, then another into her.
Her body opened to me even more as I began to move my fingers in and out of her warmth.
"You like this, don't you?" I asked, knowing from the wetness covering my fingers that she was enjoying it. She nodded and then whimpered as I curled my fingers inside her.
"Oh, shit!" she moaned. I grinned against her heated flesh before removing my fingers and kissing her inner thigh.
"No…no, please don't stop," she begged.
"I've changed my mind," I stated.
"I think I'd rather like the lap dance you promised me," I mused, sitting back on my heels. I narrowed my eyes at her, "Dance for me Isabella, and if it's good enough I'll continue what I've started."
I reached up and placed my finger to her lips. "Shhh… Perform for me. What music do you like to dance to?"
I saw the disappointment on her face, but I didn't miss the anger and the determination that was also there. I knew she'd dance for me, and I knew I would cause her to orgasm many times. She had to learn to wait, just as I did.
"Anything with a good beat," she huffed.
I nodded, pushing myself onto my feet.
"Let me see what I have." I crossed my room to my old CD player, smiling with the knowledge that I had at least one song she would like.
I fetched the chair from my desk and positioned it in the space at the end of the bed. Watching Isabella's stunned reaction, I strolled confidently to the CD player and pressed the 'play' button before sitting down on the chair, my back to the bed.
The familiar, slow bass beat of 'Justify My Love' started to fill the room.
"Hands by your sides," Isabella was directly behind me, whispering in my ear, "No touching until I say so."
I bit back my grin at her words, but did as she asked, dropping my arms to my sides.
She kept her hand on my shoulder as she walked around me. Facing me, completely naked, she gyrated in time with the music. Her hips swung from side to side with the beat, her hands caressed her body before rising up into her hair. I couldn't take my eyes off her as she stepped forward, nearer, and then backed away. If the idea of the dance was to tease, then it was certainly working.
I watched every part of Isabella as she prowled around me. Her breasts were magnificent: perky, perfect globes with darker pink nipples that I had already wrapped my tongue around. As my eyes ventured lower I saw the rose tattoo and grinned. I'd definitely be going back there tonight.
Isabella's fingers were suddenly under my chin as she tilted my face to look her in the eyes. She slid on to my knee, her legs spread either side of mine. I wanted to look down, see her breasts right in front of me, but her hand kept hold of my chin. I heard the growl of protest in my throat seconds before she started to move her hips against me. My groin ached, and the long forgotten feeling of arousal began to build.
She rolled her hips, grinding on my rapidly growing erection. It felt so good, so impossibly good, and when Isabella let go of my chin I glanced down at the area where she was moving against me.
I breathed deeply, aware that she had her hands on the back of the chair and was leaning backwards, arching her back as she continued to writhe on me.
"Isabella…" Her name escaped from my mouth as a hushed moan.
She looked at me, her eyes heavy with lust before leaning forwards. Before I could say anything she crashed her lips against mine. All thought of keeping my hands by my sides disappeared as I grabbed her ass, squeezing it as she rocked. My hips started rising to meet the forward roll of her hips. I understood exactly how the men felt when they went to see her at Toots. I was struggling to not do what so many of them did.
Her lips released my mouth and she kissed across my cheek before nipping my ear with her teeth.
"Isabella," I moaned again, "I can't… this is… too much."
She breathed heavily in my ear, "I know."
"Fuck!" The expletive flew from my mouth. It was the first time I had spoken the word in years. I stood up, lifting Isabella with me as she wrapped her legs around my waist. My passion and need for release made my movements brisk and urgent. I practically slammed her into the wall, pressing onto her. Using my upper body to keep her still I popped the buttons on my trousers. My unfamiliar erection sprung free, slapping her ass as it jumped upwards.
"I…please…" I begged, looking down. I couldn't look in her eyes. I knew she deserved better than this, more than a quick fuck against a wall, but it had been so long. I needed this. I wanted her.
I felt her fingers under my chin again as she forced me to look in her eyes.
"Do it," she said quietly, "Just do it."
I needed no further confirmation and bent my knees to align us. I pushed up slowly, feeling her warmth immediately.
"Fuck, you feel so good," I groaned, pushing further into her, inch by glorious inch.
I paused when I was buried fully within her, and rested my forehead against hers. My breathing was ragged, sounding out as heavy pants. Isabella pressed her lips onto mine, squeezing her legs around me and undulating her hips against mine. I breathed deeply, unable to resist the urge to thrust.
"Hold on," I instructed, and Isabella wrapped her arms around my neck.
I pulled my hips backwards before pushing back into her. Isabella groaned loudly. I repeated the action, earning another groan as my reward. Each time I thrust into her warm body she groaned or gasped. And each time I began to pull myself from her body, I felt her muscles contract around me, trying to keep me there. I concentrated on keeping my movements slow, prolonging the experience for both of us, but it was difficult. Years of never allowing myself any freedom of release, or self-gratification had made my impending orgasm pulse through my body far too quickly. My tempo increased and Isabella became even more vocal.
"Fuck me, Father. Please… harder. Fuck me harder!"
I couldn't hold back any longer. It was impossible not to give in to her demands. Her body banged into the wall on each of my upward stokes, the dull regular thuds echoing around my apartment. They were only broken up by Isabella's continual pleas for more.
With one hand holding her under her ass, I grabbed her chin with my other.
"Look at me," I managed to gasp. "Look at me!"
Her eyes locked with mine.
"Edward…" she murmured as her body quivered around me. Her legs shook, and her eyelids fluttered shut as she ground erratically against my hips. My own body came undone as I thrust into her with the irregular thrusts of my own orgasm. I pulsed into her, tilting my hips as I tried to stretch even further into her. The blasphemous words flying from my mouth were ones I hadn't heard for a long time, but I couldn't control how my body reacted when it experienced such a release.
I eventually stilled within her.
"Isabella," I whispered, resting my head on her shoulder as we both breathed heavily. Her lips kissed the side of my head, and I smiled at her continued affection.
"Seven years?" she questioned. "You can hold out for that long after seven years?"
I grinned even more before lifting my head away from her shoulder and looking at her.
"I want you to stay," I said. "Don't go. Ever."
Isabella smiled. "If you think I'm going anywhere after that, then you are so wrong. I want to experience what you can do when you have a few days practising."
I laughed loudly, shifting my body to release our connection. I stepped out of my trousers that were pooled around my ankles before carrying her to the mattress.
"Lie down," I instructed. "You must be exhausted. I know I am. It's three o'clock in the morning!"
My words generated a yawn from Isabella as she lay backwards on the mattress.
"We've both sinned," she said seriously as I lay next to her. My fingers lightly traced along her thigh.
"I know. But I forgive you your sins." I paused for a moment, thinking about a relevant passage from the Bible. "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. Amen."
I waited for Isabella to complete the prayer after me by saying the word Amen. Instead she offered a passage of her own. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians, chapter five, verse twenty-two and twenty-three. Amen"
I stared at her, completely taken aback by her knowledge of such a chapter from the Bible. I spoke another relevant passage, watching her face for any sign of a reaction. If she wanted to turn Bible passage reading into a competition then there was no way she would win against me.
"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah, chapter forty, verse thirty-one. Amen."
It seemed the game was over.
Another yawn pulled at her mouth. She was tired. I took another slow look at her naked body, allowing myself to linger on the red rose. I needed to pleasure her again with my mouth, and I wanted her to do the same to me.
Isabella reached for my hand before closing her eyes.
It appeared I would have to wait a while before we could play again.
"Get some sleep, Isabella," I suggested, pulling the white sheets over her body. She twisted to face me.
I chuckled, lightly smacking her ass. "I have a few things to do, and then I'll join you," I promised.
"Hmmm…" She was already succumbing to her tiredness. I knew I would be doing the same very soon.
I walked out of my bedroom, heading to the lone bottle of whiskey I kept for when I'd had a particularly hard day. Pouring myself two shots of the amber liquid I drank it in one go, swallowing loudly before shuddering as the drink lit a fire down my throat into my stomach.
As I returned to my bedroom, I stood at the end of the bed looking at Isabella. Her hair was ruffled, partly concealing her face. She was asleep.
"Edward…" she murmured.
I had no answer to the way my name sounded tumbling from her lips as she slept. I much preferred hearing my proper name rather than Father, although it did have a few advantages. It seemed Isabella liked the reference to my religious position.
I closed my eyes for a second before opening then to continue looking at the woman fast asleep on my bed. There was no going back now. Fate had brought us together a few months ago, and I had unintentionally decided my future the moment I met her.
"Forgive me, Almighty Lord," I whispered as I looked at Isabella's sleeping form, "For I have sinned, and I will sin again."
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